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Right-to-Work Laws Should Not Be Confused with the Fight Against Public-Sector Unions

Some conservatives were upset at Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels for opposing the right-to-work bill that was proposed by the Republican legislature in his state. He was asked about this — and offered a response.

After highlighting in one paragraph the 2011 legislative agenda, Daniels wrote:

I suggested studying it for a year and developing the issue for next year.  No one had campaigned on it; it was a big issue that hit the public cold.  I was concerned that it would provide the pretext for radical action by our Democratic minority that would jeopardize the entire agenda above, with zero chance of passing RTW itself.  And that is exactly what has happened.

We’re not giving up on the agenda we ran on, but this mistake presents a significant obstacle.  RTW never had a chance this year and now the task is to make sure that it doesn’t take a host of good government changes down with it.

That seems entirely reasonable to me. Chief executives and lawmakers should, as a general rule, try to implement what they ran on. There are exceptions to this, of course; but in this instance, it applies. Adding RTW into the mix would actually set back the cause of conservative governance.

Beyond that, the case for right-to-work laws for the private sector is not as strong as the case against public-sector unions, though some conservatives seem to be conflating the two issues. Governor Daniels, of course, took away all the public-sector workers’ collective-bargaining rights through an executive order not long after he took office. So he’s done much more to fight the public unions than even what Governor Walker is proposing to do.



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